Serie A Round 26

5 Mar

“Zlatan doesn’t do auditions” said Ibrahimovic about himself. You have to enjoy someone with the self confidence to speak about themselves in the third person – especially when they back it up. Big Ibra was of course speaking about the offer Arsene Wenger gave him at Arsenal, when he was a lad at Malmo. He was so sure of his ability, that even as an unknown, he was turning down a great club in the middle of their golden era – because they had the temerity to ask him to play in a trial match. How dare they? He’d scored 16 goals in 40 Swedish league games in just 3 seasons!

“What is your name boy? Zlatan will give you autograph”

Well we can all look back and laugh with him now. He has some haters, and some that suggest he’s a flat track bully (more of that shortly), but he’s definitely entertaining – and with around 34 consecutive league titles to his name, he does deliver. Back in the AC Milan side after a three match ban after someone headbutted his hand, he inspired his team to a 4-0 win away at 8th placed Palermo. It was his first hat trick of the league season, and it takes him joint top of the scoring charts with 18. In terms of the flat track bully claim, he’s only scored twice against Top 6 opposition this season – Lazio and a then high flying Catania (then 6th, now 8th). It’s not as though he bullies the bottom teams, with just 4 of the 18 against the Bottom 6 teams. It’s just that he seems to do it most against average opposition. His average ranked opponent per goal is 11.17, and this is backed up by 12 goals against the middle 8 teams. So not a Bully, but not a particularly big game player. It doesn’t matter to him though, because in his head he’s the best player in the world.

Di Natale is the new flat track bully after Osvaldo dropped out of the top scorers list. Three goals against the Top 6 would suggest that he’s not doing too badly, but he thrives against the bottom 6 opponents. Edinson Cavani’s goal at Parma in Napoli’s 2-1 win was his 16th of the season. However, he hasn’t scored any against Top 6 opposition. Unlike Di Natale, he’s not bullying the bottom teams, but doing it against mid table opposition on a regular basis – much like The Zlat.

Sneaking his way into the top scorers chart is Roma’s Fabio Borini. The former Chelsea youth teamer never really got a fair crack of the whip in West London, but a decent run of games for Roma has seen him return 8 goals in 16 games. His latest goal was in the big game situation of the Rome derby. Regardless of Lazio’s 4th place ranking before the game, it would always be a big game. He now has 6 goals in his last 6 games, including 2 against Inter Milan, and this weekend’s effort against their city rivals. His average opposition ranking of 10.25 suggests he’s been consistent in his scoring as well, and aged only 20, he could well go on to become a big name in the sport.

Despite looking like a slightly over weight retired footballer, Miccoli is leading the AOI rankings in both goals and assists

Speaking of big game performers, Fabrizio Miccoli still leads the way in average opponent rankings with 6.27, as well as the most goals vs Top 6 opposition with 8. And to top it off, he’s also top of the assists chart with 12:

And like with his scoring, he gets the assists in the big games too. Inter Milan have been on the end of his creative streak both home and away, and he’s also punished Lazio with 2 assists in the recent 5-1 win. His average ranked opponent per assist is a very impressive 9.08. Antonio Cassano is perhaps a surprise inclusion considering he played just 9 games before needing heart surgery. To create 7 goals in just 9 games is a fantastic return, and he’ll certainly be a miss for the Italian national team in the summer. AC Milan also have Robinho and Aquilani in the Top 10 for assists. Also on the list is ex AC Milan player, Andrea Pirlo. He settled in to life at Juventus quickly, with 2 assists on his debut against Parma, and has followed up with 4 more, though has none in the big games against the Top 6 teams. QPR fans will take heart from seeing Djibril Cisse’s name in the Top 10, with 6.

Elsewhere in round 26, Juventus continued their unbeaten run – though crucially they could only draw again, for the 12th time in 25 games. Although they have a game in hand, they’re 3 points behind AC Milan whose city neighbours put a stop to their losing run with a 2-2 home draw against 9th placed Catania courtesy of goals from Milito and a goal shy Diego Forlan. The draw means that they’ve now gone 7 games without a win, after winning 7 in a row. This run is second only to Cesena who have lost 6 and drawn 1 of their last 7.

And to wrap up today’s rather lengthy post, a look at last week’s predictions:

  • Big Zlatan should be back for Milan after serving his 3 match ban. Whilst he has an average opposition per goal of 11.8, he’s also scored against Lazio and Roma, and should be refreshed after his break.
  • Miroslav Klose to score against Roma in the derby match. He scored the winner against Fiorentina, and has the big game mentality with 4 goals against Top 6 opponents. Plus he’s German(ish), and you can never bet against them.
  • Inter Milan to win against Catania.
  • Di Natale to score against Atalanta – his average is 12.4 but he has 7 other goals against mid table opposition, and Atalanta in 11th at home should see that continue.

Well the first one was absolutely spot on! Other than that, not so much. Klose didn’t manage to notch in the Rome derby, and although Inter came back from  2-0 down to win a point, that’s not the win I predicted. And lastly, Udinese could only muster up a 0-0 draw with Atalanta, meaning of course that Di Natale didn’t score, despite 6 shots (3 on target). So a pretty poor 1 from 4 this week. I’ll be trying my luck with the German league next.




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